The power of recognition : the limitation of indigenous peoples

Detta är en avhandling från Luleå : Luleå tekniska universitet

Sammanfattning: The aim of the thesis is to investigate the relationship between power and indigenous peoples and to find a relevant method with which to study this relationship. It is the condition of power or the lack of power that allows an ethnic group, a ‘tribe’, an ‘indigenous people’ or a ‘people, to become a ‘nation’. Power has thus a significant affect on ethnicity and in recognising ethnic groups as nations. I argue that indigenous peoples have to be understood as self-defined ethnic minorities which include the dynamic character of identities. This subjective definition will focus on the constitution process of identities, rather than objective attributes. It also highlights the power aspects of identification. However, the subjective definition also creates a crucial problem. The three traditional views of power cannot combine identity with power. Either there is simply power and no identity, or there is identity but no power. We thus need a fourth view of power. Usually, power is a force that presses on the subject from the outside, as what subordinates, sets underneath, and relegates to a lower order. This is, of course, a fair description of what power does. However, in the fourth view of power subjection is a form of power. We must understand power as forming the subject as well as providing the very condition of its existence. Power is not simply what we oppose but also what we depend on for our existence. The thesis shows that all identities are relational and causes ordination, that is it always constitutes a hierarchy. One identity cannot exist in isolation. As soon as a relationship occurs power is involved. Power is productive, that is, it constitutes, reconstitutes and legitimises categories and norms connected to them. No one is in charge of this power, all actors are vehicles of the power that continuously constitutes their reality. Identification is ordination and thus produces its own norms, discipline and resistance. Resistance, self-discipline and self-subjection are thus power techniques that strengthen a given discourse and the power relationship it upholds. Thus, there are no theories on identity, indigenous or ethnic, only theories of history encompassing indigenousness capable of explaining the empirical production of identities. There is no identity without power and there is no power without identity. To understand indigenous peoples’ political situation one must analyse how they are constituted by a sophisticated interplay between internal and external power techniques. Members of indigenous peoples, as well as members of other group identities, must question their own foundation of identification in order to uncover future alternatives. This may change present discourses and categories and the power relationships they constitute, reproduce and legitimise.

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